Shuffle to your right, do-si-do Featured

10:09am EDT July 22, 2002

Shuffle to your right, do-si-do

A new survey shows that some companies believe the grass is greener on the other side, though why is still a matter of dispute.

By William Hoffman

A Pennsylvania company has compiled the first-ever statistics on where and when businesses move.

The Camp Hill, Pa., Brandow Co.'s Business Migration Profiles rely on a comprehensive database of 10 million U.S. firms collected from private credit reporting services. The first full state-to-state migration report reviews company movements between states, regions, counties and smaller jurisdictions from 1991 through year-end 1995.

Highlights include:

Nationally, 56,783 companies representing 1.08 million jobs and almost $1.3 trillion in sales migrated between states (including D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). Yet these companies-often the target of hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private-sector relocation incentives-constituted less than 0.5 percent of all business facilities.

Florida netted the largest business immigration (2,240); New York lost the most (3,551). Interstate migrations were heavily influenced by factors within the same standard metropolitan statistical area, and border-state migrations accounted for a large portion of such moves.

The smallest firms are the least likely to move. The most substantial migration occurs among firms with fewer than 25 workers, though most relocating jobs come from the largest companies.

Businesses 10 years old and under are more liable to move than the business population as a whole, and the propensity to migrate is most pronounced at 3 to 6 years old-the traditional growth years.

Reasons for migration are beyond the scope of the report. Jonathan Brandow, president of The Brandow Co., explains that the new research tells what's been happening, but not why.

Trade deficit bingo

As the U.S. foreign trade deficit flirts with 10-year highs, so-called experts renew their debate over whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

America's foremost outplacement and downsizing authority, Chicago's Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says: "The newly announced 21 percent trade deficit with Japan will make American-made products more expensive and is likely to cause the current increase in job cuts to move even higher."

Daniel T. Griswold at Washington, D.C.'s Libertarian Cato Institute say: "Larger trade deficits correlate positively with falling unemployment." Without a trade deficit, the United States would have to finance domestic investment solely from domestic savings, which would raise interest rates, he says.

Don't try to sort it out. There are as many competing opinions on trade deficits as there are on the economic effects of gambling, stadium options and solitaire strategies.

If every day was Tuesday

A survey of 150 executives at the nation's largest firms finds that Tuesday is considered employees' most productive day.

Probably that doesn't come as a surprise, though this might: A similar poll taken 11 years ago placed Monday as fourth most productive, while the 1998 questionnaire placed Monday at No. 2. Of course, Friday ranked dead last in productivity by a wide margin in both surveys.

"The workweek appears to have its own business cycles during which productivity exhibits peaks and valleys," says Lynn Taylor, vice president at Accountemps, the Menlo Park, Calif., staffing service that commissioned the study. "Companies may long for a week of Tuesdays in order to keep major initiatives on track."

Fat chance. The first Tuesday would be like Monday, the fifth would be like Friday, and pretty soon no one could keep count. Besides, as the old song says, Nothing matters but the weekend/From a Tuesday point of view.